Riding through Bosnia and peaking back to Croatia
So last time we just survived a heavy rainstorm and reached a city in the middle of Bosnia, called Livno. We made camp in a nice lady’s garden and hoped that my urinary infection didn’t get worse with getting soaked. As I have a long history with it, I already tried buying specific antibiotics for it the other day, but not surprisingly couldn’t get it without a prescription. Of course in the morning it turned out the rain didn’t help, so I decided going to the emergency room in the hospital to see a doctor, before it got to my kidney, because that is one hell of a ride to live through.
Our first hospital visit
As our luck would have it, we got help from a former UN interpreter working there, translating my problem, which made everything go much faster, as even doctors don’t speak English so well around here. Unfortunately they had to confirm my suspicion with the lab, but the emergency room itself was free of charge, so the whole ordeal, together with the medicine cost around only 14 euros, most of it being the laboratory fee.
I would like to emphasize that we do not have a health insurance for the trip, and I only have my national Hungarian one, which amounts to nothing outside the EU. We decided against it because the cost was too steep, and we figured we mostly go through countries where healthcare is cheap. Will see if we are better off money-wise with this route, and naturally I wouldn’t encourage anyone not taking insurance, it is a risk we are willing to take.
After making sure I would get better in time, we continued our way south, where we were planning to stay at a warmshowers host called Bambi in Potoci, near Mostar for some days, to rest a bit. The thing is, nothing special happened in Bosnia after this, and after seeing so much beauty in the past months, it’s good to have a change of pace, so we will be eager to dive into it again. It’s not to say Bosnia was not nice, we just didn’t have so many highlights, and had more of an everyday life of a cycle tourist. We did see one stunning piece of nature after leaving Jablanica and going to Mostar though, when we were riding along a narrow gorge with high, rocky peaks above, and a crystal blue river to accompany us.
During our resting days in Potoci we met with a ton of cycle tourist (it’s an organic farm where everyone is welcomed, you just have to have a tent), and we enjoyed sharing stories and made some good friends. The most curious pair was Anna from Malaysia and Yuki from Japan, riding small folding bikes with huge backpacks but still managing to tackle mountains. Suffice to say they were quite a sight on the road, especially in the Balkans, where even the typical cycle tourist is a rare thing. They were coming from the east, so later we kept bumbing into people and hosts who already met them, which was really funny.
We left Bosnia through the Ciro trail, which was a cycling route along and old railway line, ending in Dubrovnik. It was sad to see all those stations and servicing villages in a ruined and abandoned state, once buzzing with traffic and passengers (one station had 14 tracks!). This and finding a minefield clearing site right next to us was again a reminder of the horrors and consequences of the Bosnian war, which still affects life today, after twenty years.
Back to Croatia
Then we crossed the border back to Croatia, and descended down to the famous old city (but so much touristier since it became the playground for Game of Thrones). Arriving to the coastal road, we got immediate confirmation as to why it was a good idea to avoid it. The traffic was so bad, it got us ten minutes just to cross to the other side, and tourist buses and trucks passed us every other minute on the narrow “highway”, having no shoulder to feel a bit safer. We only went and stayed in Dubrovnik because we managed to find a host there, otherwise we wouldn’t have thought of it, prices for accommodation – and everything else – being extraordinarily high. Actually, I think the city was more beautiful from above, where you had a gorgeous view over the bay and old town.
Our host, Niksa brought us to a family grill party on our first evening, and even got the laptop fixed in the middle of the night through a friend of his working in IT. He was really nice and generous, so we barely had to spend anything, and we had a lot of fun driving around town in late evenings, showing him Hungarian and Danish music, in exchange for some local ones. It’s really good for the body and mind to have these days back in civilization sometimes, so we can have them fresh while grinding the next set of kilometres.
Before leaving Croatia for the second and final time, our last stop was near the border, where we were hosted by Marko and James, a quite an odd match. Marko, the original owner of the land was nearing 80, lived half his life in Canada before moving back to his birthplace, and had no shortage of witty and sarcastic comments. James on the other hand was a former cycle tourist from the UK, who somehow ended up staying at his warmshowers host for two years now (and hosted thousands of people since then), with no intention of leaving, as he was planning to grow his own pomegranates. Keeping them company was a cute, little but oh so fast dog, Cuk, who even walked us down to the beach 5km away, where it was apparent she did this frequently with other guests, everyone recognizing her in the village.
Unexpected meeting and arriving to Montenegro
They already had another guest, Hayley staying with them for a long while already, and she seemed familiar at first, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then we realized we saw her back in Ljubljana, where we missed the chance to talk with her, and we were both surprised and happy we could make up for it. It turned out she was waiting for some bike parts to arrive and they messed the shipment at first, so that’s why she was stuck there for almost two months. But eventually everything got sorted out and she is way faster than us – as most long term bike travellers –, she is already in Georgia, while we enjoy the early autumn in Greece. Alan read it on supercyclingman’s page I think, that the best way to travel is to keep it wiggly, meaning the line you make shouldn’t have too many straight lines; to see as much as possible. If you look at our route so far, we certainly keep true to that advice.
Eventually we had to be on our way, and I was excited to finally see the bay of Kotor, being there a month later than my missed triathlon race took place. We decided to go around it, instead of taking the ferry across the narrow gap, partly because I wanted to try out the race track, and also we usually don’t take the easy way out. By doing so, we just arrived to Kotor in time to make some cool new friends, who will get introduced in my next post.